THIS CHART, ONE of many presented during the Pana School Board meeting on Monday, Oct. 21, shows the ups and downs of Pana’s expenses (square), revenues (circle) and fund balances (triangle) from Fiscal Year 2002 through 2014.
In dealing with a $1.1 million Education Fund short fall, a vote will be taken in November on a plan to close Tower Hill Jefferson Middle School and not replace five certified staff members who are retiring.
Pana School Superintendent Dr. David Lett outlined a plan to shave nearly 80% of a projected $1.1 million deficit in the Pana School District’s Fiscal 2015 year. He presented the plan to school board members during the Monday, Oct. 21, meeting of the Pana School Board held in the Library of Pana High School.
The superintendent spoke for nearly a half-hour on the options available to the school district which were first announced publicly during a Thursday, Oct. 17, meeting of the Board’s Finance Committee.
The plan includes the closure of Tower Hill Jefferson Middle School at the end of this school year. This move is projected to save just over $350,000. In another cost-savings move, the District will not replace five certified staff members – including Assistant School Superintendent David Dively – which is projected to save another $450,000, for a combined total of $800,000.
In the past few fiscal years, the State of Illinois has been “prorating” school funding levels based on Fiscal Year 2011 levels. In 2012, the level was 95% of the ‘11 amount. In 2013 and 2014, the level has been set at 89%. In those years, Pana schools have lost more than $1 million in state aid.
The Superintendent also reviewed how the school district has been coping with the loss of state funds over the past few years. Supply budgets have been slashed and the total number of certified and non-certified staff has been decreasing.
He noted between the 2005 Fiscal year and this year, there has been a reduction in certified staff from 105 in ‘05 to 85-1/2 this year. Non-certified rates have gone from 115 to 108 full and part-time positions. Administrative staff will fall from eight to six with the retirement of Dively at the end of the school year. Between FY 2010 and 2015, athletic department personnel were reduced by 8-1/2 and the elimination of the junior high school athletic director and a clerical position. There are more athletic department positions which are going to be reduced, it was announced.
However, Pana Education Association President Paul Donahue spoke to the Board early in its session and he pleaded with them not to make anymore staff cuts than what have been proposed.
“Dr. Lett has done a good job with the budget, and we have come under budget most years,” Donahue said. “But we ask you not to make cuts in teaching staff beyond the non-replacement of teachers who are retiring.”
The PEA President pointed out the adjustment from closing of Jefferson will be hard on students. He also said the adjustment to new testing standards and the switch to Common Core Standards will also take its toll. He said there will be new testing coming with first and second grade students being tested for the first time.
A final decision on the proposal will come during the Board’s November meeting set for Monday, Nov. 18.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:01 p.m.